Rays Draft Report Card
BEST PURE HITTER: OF Nick Schnell (1) was one of the most productive hitters in the country during the spring. He has the kind of loose, strong hands that scouts look for and well above-average bat speed. SS Tyler Frank (2) may not hit the averages that Schnell will produce, but his excellent understanding of the strike zone and his patience allows him to make plenty of contact and post excellent on-base percentages.
BEST POWER: OF Grant Witherspoon (4) hit 12 home runs at Tulane and another five at Rookie-level Pulaski. He has above-average power as does OF Jordan Qsar (25). Qsar found his power with 13 home runs in his senior season at Pepperdine and hit another 14 in just 211 at-bats as a pro.
FASTEST RUNNER: OF Beau Brundage (33) and SS K.V. Edwards (36) are both plus-plus runners, although both have work to do on stealing bases. Brundage was thrown out in eight of 12 attempts at Portland this spring, while Edwards was 9-of-17 on steals with Cowley County (Kan.) JC.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Frank will be able to stay up the middle, but SS Ford Proctor (3) has a better shot to stay at shortstop. Proctor’s above-average arm and excellent hands help him make up for limited range. C Michael Berglund (8) is a solid receiver with an average arm.
BEST ATHLETE: Schnell has excellent baseball athleticism thanks to his size, strength and quick first step. OF/RHP Tanner Dodson’s (2s) loose athleticism helps him be able to both be an effective pitcher and a useful outfielder.
BEST FASTBALL: LHP Shane McClanahan’s (1) fastball has touched 100 mph and it has excellent riding life. Dodson’s 92-95 mph sinker touches 98 and is hard to lift. LHP Nick Sprengel (15) can touch 96 mph. After his control faltered at San Diego, he showed improved control and consistency in his pro debut.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Dodson’s slider has the look of a late-inning weapon. It’s hard (it can bump the low-90s at times) and he can bury it when needed. LHP Matthew Liberatore (1) has a plus changeup that flashes better than that.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Dodson went 1-0, 1.44 with a strikeout an inning. He also hit .277/.344/.369 as a center fielder for short-season Hudson Valley. RHP Simon Rosenblum-Larson (19) is a low-slot righthander who went 1-3, 1.16 with 14.4 K/9 and only 19 hits in 39 innings. Hitters hated facing such an unusual delivery.
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MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: The Rays are committed to letting Dodson both hit and pitch, much like they have let 2017 first-round pick Brendan McKay do both. But while Mckay’s excellent starting pitching potential may eventually force a decision as his pitching is ahead of his hitting, Dodson’s ability to play a solid outfield and also serve as a potential high-leverage reliever gives him a solid shot of doing both in the big leagues.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Dodson’s two-way status may slow him, but his fastball-slider combo could make him a reliever who would move very quickly if he focused on pitching. McClanahan could also be a fast-moving reliever but the Rays will take a slow-and-steady approach as he has a chance to develop as a starter, although it will take longer for him to tame his delivery.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Rosenblum-Larson could make it to the majors as a matchup reliever. LHP Steffon Moore (26) impressed in the Appalachian League. Qsar (25) hit .289/.422/.573 with 14 home runs in his pro debut. He’s got plus power which he was able to get to in pro ball.
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: The Rays signed every player they drafted in the top 20 rounds. RHP Eric Cerantola (30) is an athletic ex-hockey player who should be effective on the mound for Mississippi State thanks to a low-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curveball.